Rob Watley: “There’s Nothing You Can’t Accomplish”

Prior Lake, Minnesota (Fri, March 2, 2018)– The hottest lightweight prospect in the sport, Rob Watley, sat down with FightBookMMA before he defends his LFA title tonight at LFA 34, LIVE on AXS TV Fights.

How would you sum up 2017 in one word?

“Blur” or “flash.” It really just seemed like it flew by more than other years. There’s a lot going on in my own life, and there’s so much going on in the outside world.

Are you heavily invested in current events?

As a human being who lives on this planet with other human beings, I’m definitely invested. But I’m not emotionally invested. I think emotions certainly have their place, but not in matters like politics. Of course I’m invested; I want to make the world a better place. But it’s not to the point where I’m going to lose my mind if someone has a different opinion than me (laughs).

How did you like Black Panther?

(Laughs) It’s funny you ask that. When you look at it just as a film, it was good. I put it right up there with other good Marvel movies — it was very well acted, there were good fight sequences, they did a good job with story development. But,when you look at it from a different standpoint, there’s a lot of propaganda in the film, which is typical of most movies. We need to be careful that we’re not manipulated into reacting in a way that reflects negatively on the population as a whole.

Have you seen racism in MMA?

That’s hard to pinpoint. Of course, when you see someone getting a spot over you or getting paid more than you, you believe there’s an injustice. And the first thing that some people notice about me is that I’m darker than a lot of other fighters. While I’m sure there is racism in fighting, I can’t pinpoint a moment where I’ve personally been a victim of it. The best part of MMA is that,when you bleed, everyone bleeds the same color — red — and most fans have a lot of respect for anyone willing to step up and get in the cage.

What does your LFA title mean to you?

It means there are eyes on me, and there are certain responsibilities that are now on my plate. It means I’m a public figure, and that kids are looking up to me. It means a lot. It’s a sign that I have to grow up, and I have to put others ahead of myself.

What role has your father played in your professional career?

Man, he’s my hero. He’s a very strong Black man. He’s had to go through things that I’ve never had to experience to provide for his family. He’s sacrificed so much for me and my family. The example that he’s set for me has given me so much hope to move forward — it can be done, it can be done, it’ll just take a little more hard work. He instilled in me the mindset that anything can be accomplished. As far as my professional career, he’s always been there for me. He, as well as my mother, my family, my fiance and her wonderful family, my teammates, my management, have all done so much for me. They say it’s an individual sport, but I’d never make it in that cage if it wasn’t for all the people I have around me.

What about the guys at Iridium Sports Agency?

They got me the opportunity to fight for the LFA belt when I was at a sticking point in my career. There weren’t any challengers for my regional belt — most guys just weren’t interested in fighting me locally. The opportunity to fight for the belt was huge and the opportunity to fight the No. 1 prospect for the belt, was massive. That shot me up over 200 spots on Fight Matrix overnight (laughs). They’ve helped me understand that I am a product and a brand. They’ve also helped me understand what it takes to be a true professional.

How would you like to be remembered when it’s all said and done?

I’d like to be remembered as someone who gave it his all and fought for more than himself. I want people to know that, if you have a dream and a vision and you surround yourself with likeminded people, there’s nothing that you can’t accomplish.

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